Timeline of probability and statistics

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A timeline of probability and statistics

Before 1600[edit]

  • 9th Century - Al-Kindi was the first to use statistics to decipher encrypted messages and developed the first code breaking algorithm in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, based on frequency analysis. He wrote a book entitled "Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages", containing detailed discussions on statistics[1]
  • 1560s (published 1663) – Cardano's Liber de ludo aleae attempts to calculate probabilities of dice throws. He demonstrates the efficacy of defining odds as the ratio of favourable to unfavourable outcomes (which implies that the probability of an event is given by the ratio of favourable outcomes to the total number of possible outcomes [2]).
  • 1577 – Bartolomé de Medina defends probabilism, the view that in ethics one may follow a probable opinion even if the opposite is more probable

17th century[edit]

  • 1654 – Pascal and Fermat create the mathematical theory of probability,
  • 1657 – Huygens's De ratiociniis in ludo aleae is the first book on mathematical probability,
  • 1662 – Graunt's Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality makes inferences from statistical data on deaths in London,
  • 1666 - In Le Journal des Sçavans xxxi, August 2, 1666 (359-370(=364)) appears a review of the third edition (1665) of John Graunt's Observations on the Bills of Mortality. This review gives a summary of 'plusieurs reflexions curieuses', of which the second are Graunt's data on life expectancy. This review is used by Nicolaus Bernoulli in his De Usu Artis Conjectandi in Jure (1709).
  • 1669 - Christiaan Huygens and his brother Lodewijk discuss between August and December that year Graunts mortality table (Graunt 1662, p. 62) in letters #1755
  • 1693 – Halley prepares the first mortality tables statistically relating death rate to age,

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Singh, Simon (2000). The code book : the science of secrecy from ancient Egypt to quantum cryptography (1st Anchor Books ed.). New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-49532-3. 
  2. ^ Some laws and problems in classical probability and how Cardano anticipated them Gorrochum, P. Chance magazine 2012
  3. ^ Wright, Sewall (1921). "Correlation and causation". Journal of Agricultural Research. 20 (7): 557–585. 

Further reading[edit]